Part 30: 1428-Regarding the Inevitability of Death and TaxesOn the Inevitability of Death and Taxes
In Secondmonth of 1428, the Royal Army advanced to the Fifth Tower, supported by a flying ship built in Fangrock which was to be stationed at the Tower and protect it against passage. There the Army was confronted by a flock of the small sprites who had stood against them in earlier times.
These sprites stood little chance against bolt and spell, and victory was claimed swiftly and without losses.
Within the tower, documents that helped further advance the High Queen's research were recovered, as was a magical bow of some modest power. This bow, being of little application, was stripped down for the power made to create it, helping fuel the High Queen's continued work as a wizard. The documents uncovered helped Dagmaer devise a method to bring the Stalwart Warrior's blessing upon every weapon in the realm, ensuring that some magic aided every strike with these weapons. With the widespread use of alchemically-created enchanted steel, however, much of the effect of this would be superfluous.
Holy Arms basically just converts standard weapons to magical weapons. Since our Alchemists' Guilds already have our troops using magical weapons, this would have no real effect on our troops.
Outside the Fifth Tower, the Army discovered that Horus had been mustering forces on the island on the Arcanian side, presumably preparing to seize the tower for himself and secure a path into Myrror. The ship left behind to guard the tower denied him this ambition while he yet maintained peace with the Kingdom of Nine Crowns.
A month later, in Thirdmonth, the conjunction of green stars came to an end, and the nodes of the worlds returned to their normal state. As Dagmaer controlled only one node of nature, the restoration of the normal order of things was of great benefit to her.
By Fifthmonth, the final Tower was assaulted by the Royal Army. This Tower was controlled only by a single spirit of Chaos. Although powerful and fairly sophisticated, its intellect and subtlety were less than that of the various spirits of Sorcery the Royal Army had already faced, and the flames it commanded could not penetrate the protections Dagmaer had laid upon her soldiers. It perished swiftly, before it could harm the Army.
This tower too contained a bow of some power and a number of documents, from which Dagmaer was capable of devising means to call the protection of the Righteous Queen upon an entire city, sheltering it from all evil magic. Should such protections be needed, Dagmaer might now raise them.
A very strong force of high man warrior-priests, both skilled magicians and superb plate-armored cavalry, along with a company of fearless orc cavalry, was mustered near this final tower. Horus' strength stretched to touch many lands.
In Sixthmonth, Dagmaer's puppet-spirit exploring Arcanus came across a remarkable find. Although a number of little treasures of gold or glass or precious things had been found in abandoned ruins, the spirit found in one empty ruin documents which provided knowledge of certain Sorcery to the High Queen. Through this she might be surely intervene against the magic of others. A month later, Horus the Holy once more asserted his power and authority over the winds of the world.
In that same month, the High Queen came to a decision, and decreed that henceforth all taxes in the realm were abolished. With her work to bring the blessing of the Sagacious Counselor to many towns, and the growing strength of Industry across the realm as new ideas and new inventions were set to use, the wealth of the realm was grown very strong indeed. Seeing the riches the realm had accumulated, she was confident that now the crown should be able to cover its own expenditures via her interests in printing and trade, and through donations from various of the merchants of the realm who recognised their interests in Dagmaer's work as a wizard continuing. With the burden of taxation lifted, life became easier for the people as a whole, although the High Queen's resources for alchemy were greatly limited by this change.
And this is one of the things you can do with dwarves and white magic. You can create an empire that runs smoothly on no taxes whatsoever. With no taxes, the only natural source of unrest in your empire is racial tensions. Zero tax rate is definitely not strategically optimal, but it feels so good to accomplish.
With the new confidence the High Queen held in civic order across the realm, she saw to it that the use of Sorcery by the priests of Bloodrock, Leer, and Darkhold to observe the wholes of their district was put to an end. Even without such measures the populace remained peaceful and orderly.
Two months later, in Ninthmonth, Dagmaer set forth her own power over the winds, challenging Horus' power and allowing the ships of the Kingdom of Nine Crowns to sail without interference from Horus. Through this, the ocean trade of the realm endured.
Two wizards casting Wind Mastery will make it so their ships travel at normal rates, rather than double rates, as the power of each wizard cancels out. Other wizards still sail at half rate.
Meanwhile, the Royal Army made an assault upon the node of Sorcery in Northerland, finding there a series of towering windstorms bound together by Sorcery, backed by the unreal soldiers the Army had fought so often.
Air Elementals are extremely fast invisible flying units with a rather good attack. Although they're more fragile than Earth Elementals, they are excellent at flanking behind enemy lines. Even if you can detect invisible enemies somehow, ranged units without Illusion Immunity cannot attack them at range, although spells can still be cast at them.
Although the elven magicians sought to summon the power of Chaos to destroy the animate windstorms, only one company of magicians succeeded in so doing. One windstorm was thereby utterly destroyed. Hrodvaldur meanwhile provided the blessing of the Sagacious Counselor to Vigny and her scouts, whereupon they used their perceptions to pick targets in the Sorcery binding the windstorms and begin shooting them down.
In the end, almost forty of the elves were flayed by the winds, which rushed swiftly behind the lines of the Army and fell upon them. Nonetheless the beings guarding this node of Sorcery were destroyed.
There was uncovered a little trove of enchanted glass and a circular shield utterly impervious to any blow whatsoever, and which might pull its wielder forward swiftly in the charge. This shield was supplied to King Harold of Freeport, while a suit of armor no longer used was consigned to the forge.
Shortly thereafter, the village of Longrift was settled near the Sixth Tower by lizardkin under the rule of Horus the Holy. To avoid war, the High Queen had no choice but to shift the ship garrisoning the Sixth Tower to simply patrol near it on the Myrran side, for Horus pretended that through this settlement he had legitimate territorial claim to the Sixth Tower. What ill may come of this in time, no one yet knows. A month later, Snowy Point joined those towns illuminated by the inspiration of the Sagacious Counselor, and its productivity grew with the efforts of its folk.
By Twelfthmonth, as the year drew to a close, the Royal Army had made its way to Trollsheim, assaulting the node of Sorcery on its western shores, defended by many of the great unreal beasts created by Sorcery. Though Hrodvaldur attempted to bolster his forces with the power of the Stalwart Warrior, the power of the node interfered and brought this to nothing.
Though magicians and scouts destroyed many of the beasts before they reached the Army's lines, nonetheless they were too many, and one of them was met on one flank of the infantry. A few of the infantry fell, but victory was claimed swiftly once it came to clash of arms.
There in the node was uncovered more documents and an ancient mace. The documents helped the High Queen devise a means to set the power of the Righteous Queen to watch over the worlds, guarding vigilantly against the destructive powers of Chaos. With the might of Tauron, such an act of magic may well prove to secure the kingdom against threat. The mace, for its part, was rendered for its power, aiding the High Queen in her work.
The southern reaches of the Arcanian land on which the First Tower stands have been better-explored by the High Queen's puppet-spirit, while the flying ships on the Fifth and Sixth Towers performed a little scouting to uncover more of the seas surrounding the towers they are to guard. The map of Arcanus grows ever more complete. The primitive frontier village of Longrift serves as Horus' foothold on Ixtu's land.
The Kingdom of Nine Crowns as of Twelfthmonth 1428
Though taxes have been abolished and the revenues of the crown have been greatly reduced, nonetheless its revenues are enough to cover expenses with more to spare. The great abundance of the realm and the light hand of the crown ensure that such a policy can be pursued. The ship garrisoning the Sixth Tower has been relocated to a new patrol location, while the Royal Army prepares to defeat the monsters of Trollsheim. Puppet-spirits of Dagmaer set forth to yoke the power of the nodes cleared this year.
Yes, we are making 158 gold a year in profit at a zero tax rate. Yes, just consider that for a moment.
With ships to garrison the Fifth, Sixth, and Second Towers completed, the programs of Naval shipbuilding in Fangrock have come to an end, while its craftsfolk devote themselves to more peaceable pursuits. The building of new flying ships for swift trade and passengers is a great industry here, and a source of much of the town's revenue.
The past year has seen the construction of a mighty monastery and temple complex in Firesands, where the priests of the dragonkin might meditate and whose architecture is a wonder of the region. The savants of the town have begun assembling their own great academy of magic, joining other towns in their experimentation in those arts.
Shadowwood has developed a great academy of magic and many smaller temples alongside the temple of the Great Lady of Beauty over the course of the past year, and its role in trade has grown. Bars of refined mithril flow out from its port or along the road for use by artisans elsewhere, and certain items of mithril jewelry made in the town have developed a fine reputation.
The beastkin militia in Bantanu has been disbanded, in favor of an elite force of minotaur warriors under command of King Torbax. Though only few in number, the immense strength and skill of minotaurs renders them truly fearsome in battle. The town takes its own role in the trade of the realm, being in particular one of the most important suppliers of leather to the entire realm.
Tensions between the Arcanian wizards and Dagmaer only continue to rise, and Horus has forced the abandonment of the Sixth Tower. The security of the realm yet endures, but whether peace will continue is perhaps in doubt.
Despite any questions of security, the year 1428 has brought changes to the realm welcomed by all its folk. The gentle hand of the crown rests lighter than ever before, and the folk of the realm know peace and contentment. Let us hope such peace will continue into the future.